Getting Sick in China

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Well, I ended up having a little bit of an extended stay in the PRC (details on why that is the case coming in later blogs) but for now I'd like to talk about a recent experience I had getting to know the Chinese medical system in an intimate fashion.


Unfortunately (and this is something study-abroad students should definitely be aware of) my HTH Worldwide insurance, securely protecting me during my semester at IES, ended after the semester wrapped-up May 31st. That said, June 15th, I discovered that I had my first serious health issue, even more severe than my bouts with laduzi (literally, stomach being pulled-out) in Beijing and Yunnan. Without going into the fine details of the situation, I knew that I needed to find a cheap, efficient option fast. After consulting in vague and nuanced language with my mentors at IES, I found myself in a taxi heading towards the International Wing of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital.


The outside of the facility was a calm expanse of green, dotted with Buddhist statues featuring serene men meditating and radiating a reciprocal energy for us ignorant mortals, for as we know, all suffering is caused by ignorance, and I was feeling extremely ignorant at the time. Thus, it was hard to maintain that inner-peace upon entry into the hospital, for I now found myself in an arena of running, screaming, angry surge of humanity waving prescription notes and demanding to know why this place was such a mad-house. Undaunted by the scene before me, I shuffled over to the International section in my crocs, and met up with a friendly German man who explained to me that things were only going to get crazier. "Take deep breaths, but don't use your mouth," he advised. (By the way, most of the students in my program have the opportunity to go to a great hospital for expatriates in Beijing, Beijing United Family Hospital, but without insurance, this place was way out of my league).


After registering, I was led down a hallway full of people slouched on chairs, and into the doctors office where I was told I would be seen soon. After 10 minutes, I realized the doctor was actually waiting for me in a room across the way, so, being an assertive medical consumer, I moseyed on over there and began my consultation. There was so much I wanted to tell her, but apparently I only had a couple of minutes to do it before I was sent off for a urine test and ultrasound. After awkwardly (how could you not be awkward doing this) carrying my cup of urine to the lab, and I discovered that the ultrasound room was right next door, and noticing that it was open, I walked daintily in to be greeted by awkwardness again in the form of dropped pants and bemused expressions (and no, this was not an ultrasound I was disturbing).


All in all, I was quite happy to get my pills and be on my way, albeit feeling somewhat rushed and man-handled along the way. But hey, I can't really talk. I come from the richest, most developed country on the planet (and yes, I hear this all the time from the Chinese) but 50 million people in my country don't even have health-insurance, and President Obama's landmark health-care bill is now being challenged by 13 states. To them that have shall be giveth, and to them that have not shall be taken away.



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